Up Against the Walls

27 May

My recent notice of the Bill Brandt exhibition at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and its attendant exhibition monograph, expresses all manner of explanations regarding my preference for viewing such exhibitions through the lens of websites and catalogues. Obviously, I did forgot to mention that in addition to the travails of attending museums in one’s home metropolis, there are (for most people) the logistical details that obtain in visiting exhibition halls in other, far-off destinations (I consider anything outside my zip code far flung). Currently, I have come across a number of entrancing exhibitions/monographs that beg for commentary and notice.

Garry Winogrand Edited by Leo Rubinfien

Garry Winogrand Edited by Leo Rubinfien

Garry Winogrand, who died in 1984 at the age of 56, left a legacy of thousands of unprocessed rolls of film (some 250,000 frames)as well as a body of work that, by unanimous acclaim, place him in the pantheon of American photographers. One hundred of those previously unprinted photographs are represented in an exhibition at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern art through June 2 (the on to Manhattan, Paris and Madrid). Accompanying this exhibition is a 474 page monograph edited by Leo Rubinfien (with contributions by Sarah Greenough et al) simply entitled Garry Wingrand (SFMOMA/Yale University Press).The book’s editor and the exhibition’s guest curator Leo Rubinfien opines,”The hope and buoyancy of middle-class life in postwar America is half of the emotional heart of Winogrand’s work. The other half is a sense of undoing.”

Coney Island by Garry Winogrand

Coney Island by Garry Winogrand

NY World's Fair by Garry WInogrand

NY World’s Fair by Garry WInogrand

Venice Beach by Garry Winogrand

Venice Beach by Garry Winogrand

Life being full of serendipitous discoveries, I chanced to learn of the Blues for Smoke exhibit at the Whitney(which closed April 28) in researching fledgling novelist Bill Cheng, who referenced it somewhere or other.Here’s an elucidating synopsis by LAMOCA curator Bennet Simpson

Blues for Smoke By Bennet Simpson

Blues for Smoke By Bennet Simpson

Fortunately, the accompanying exhibition tome Blues For Smoke Bennet Simpson(MOCA/Prestel/Delmonico) makes a splendid presentation with smart explanatory essays and ruminations in a 222 page volume including (a pleasant discovery) a meditation by artist Glenn Ligon on the blues imagination of the HBO drama The Wire).Simpson quips:

Though it takes up ideas from the past, this exhibition is pitched at the present moment.The questions and topics the blues makes us think about, from ambivalent feelings to form as cultural expression, are fundamental to recent art. As I see it, the blues is about anticipation.

Bob Thompson, Garden of Music, 1960, oil on canvas,

Bob Thompson, Garden of Music, 1960, oil on canvas,

Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta 1983 Acrylic, oil paintstick, and paper collage on canvas, five panels 48 x 184 inches

Jean Paul Basquiat, Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta
1983 Acrylic, oil paintstick, and paper collage on canvas, five panels 48 x 184 inches

Under “the rubric what’s old is new and what’s new is old” falls the exhibit at the Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Punk Chaos to Couture(until August 14). It’s described as an examination “of punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today…presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience,”

Punk :Chaos to Couture by Andrew Bolton

Punk :Chaos to Couture by Andrew Bolton

Though that does take some of the bloom off Punk:Chaos to Couture‘s (Metropolitan Museum of Art) rose, with 219 illustrations in the 240 page 12 1/2 inch exhibition catalogue written b Andrew Bolton; with Richard Hell, John Lydon, and Jon Savage,the amusing description of punk found in the publicity note skillfully mixes hyperbole with aesthetic jibber jabber:

…With its eclectic mixing of stylistic references, punk effectively introduced the postmodern concept of bricolage to the elevated precincts of haute couture and directional ready-to-wear. As a style, punk is about chaos, anarchy, and rebellion. Drawing on provocative sexual and political imagery, punks made fashion overtly hostile and threatening. This aesthetic of violence – even of cruelty – was intrinsic to the clothes themselves, which were often customized with rips, tears, and slashes, as well as studs, spikes, zippers, D-Rings, safety pins, and razor blades, among other things.

This … publication examines the impact of punk’s aesthetic of brutality on high fashion, focusing on its do-it- yourself, rip-it-to-shreds ethos, the antithesis of couture’s made-to-measure exactitude. Indeed, punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy. Yet, as this book reveals, even haute couture has readily appropriated the visual and symbolic language of punk, replacing beads with studs, paillettes with safety pins, and feathers with razor blades in an attempt to capture the style’s rebellious energy. Focusing on high fashion’s embrace of punk’s aesthetic vocabulary, this book reveals how designers have looked to the quintessential anti-establishment style to originate new ideals of beauty and fashionability.

Sid Vicious, 1977 
Photograph © Dennis Morris - all rights reserved  

Sid Vicious, 1977 
Photograph © Dennis Morris – all rights reserved
 

Patti Smith, late 1970s
Photograph by Caroline Coon, Camera Pre

Patti Smith, late 1970s
Photograph by Caroline Coon, Camera Pre

Joe Strummer late1970s

Joe Strummer late1970s

Richard Hell, late 1970s
Photograph © Kate Simon

Richard Hell, late 1970s
Photograph © Kate Simon

Just in time for those who hunger for more late 20th century nostalgia, an anthology,Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine (It/Harper Collins) which “includes high-quality reprints of hard-to-find original issues, as well as rare and unseen photos, essays, interviews, and even handwritten contributions from the likes of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Lester Bangs, Legs McNeil, Lenny Kaye, and many more”. Also included:

-interviews with the Ramones, Sex Pistols, John Cale and Brian Eno
-photos by Roberta Bayley David Godlis, and Bob Gruen
-cartoons by R. Crumb, Bobby London, and John Holmstrom
– articles that formed the groundwork for Please Kill Me,the legendary oral history of punk by Legs McNeil and
Gillian McCain
-two “graphic novels”—The Legend of Nick Detroit and Mutant Monster Beach Party—told through photographs
featuring Debbie Harry, Joey Ramone, Richard Hell, Andy Warhol, Peter Wolf, and David Johansen

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom

One can always count on there being an exhibition of Impressionist artists somewhere in the world. I leave it to you decipher what this means but my sentiments lay with Thomas Frank (see May 2013 Harper’s), who with laser direct concision opines:

… masterpieces of Impressionism—that ultimate combination of rebellion and placid pastel bullshit that decorates the walls of hotel lobbies from Pittsburgh to Pyongyang

Impressionists on the Water by Phillip Dennis Cate , Daniel Charles, Christopher Lloyd

Impressionists on the Water by Phillip Dennis Cate , Daniel Charles, Christopher Lloyd

At any rate, the Peabody Essex Museum will be hosting an exhibition (organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) entitled Impressionists on the Water on view from November 9, 2013 to February 17, 2014 >. The press release asserts “Through nearly 60 oil paintings, works on paper, models and small craft, this exhibition illuminates the importance that access to the sea and France’s extensive inland waterways played in the development of one of the world’s most robust artistic movements.”

The accompanying unprecedented exhibition catalogue, Impressionists on the Water, by Phillip Dennis Cate, Daniel Charles, Christopher Lloyd, Gilles Chardeau (Skira /Rizzoli) is described by the publisher:

An unprecedented new book celebrating the Impressionist themes of water and boats including works by the movement’s most renowned artists…. Plein-air painting allowed the Impressionists to capture a vibrant outdoor world with startling immediacy; and water, boats, and all things nautical provided natural fodder for these artists, many of whom were sailors and yachtsman themselves. This unprecedented new volume, … traces the history of these delightful, light-infused water scenes within the social context of the latter nineteenth century. A new and expansive exploration of Impressionist themes of water and boating, this catalogue examines the changing depictions of water from pre-Impressionism (Corot, Daubigny) through Impressionism (Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Caillebotte) to neo- and post-Impressionism (Cézanne, Seurat, Signac). Throughout, connections to contemporary life, such as the literature of Zola and Maupassant and the growing use of boats as leisure craft at yacht clubs and locales such as the famously depicted Argenteuil, clarify the social and cultural implications of the nautical themes embraced by the Impressionists…

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One Response to “Up Against the Walls”

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  1. Who Took that Photo? | ourmaninboston - June 6, 2013

    […] for these treasures.Propitiously, currently you can find the exemplary photography of such masters Bill Brandt, Garry Winogrand and Abellardo Morrell on the walls of American metropolitan art […]

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